Day 24 NaPoWriMo2019 Lexical Slaw

The daily prompt from NaPoWriMo2019 asks us to take a reference book and choose words from two pages in front of you and go from there. I mixed this up a bit, since it is a bit like an exercise I do in Word Alchemy that I call “Word Salad.” But I choose up to six words that pop up at random and then go about trying to make a connection. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it’s a stretch. Sometimes it’s hilarious. For the purposes of today’s NaPowriMo2019 exercise in poetry writing I left the OED on the shelf and picked up the Chamber’s Dictionary of Etymology, which always makes for fascinating reading. The random words I picked out were spike, exemplary, protest, detest, nomad. They are all in there in some form of their etymological definition.

This was great fun! Who doesn’t love a lexicon?! I’ve loved the word ever since I found it in an Emily Dickonson poem age 11.

Lexical Slaw Word Alchemy

So many versions of how
to know the word universe
in the mind of God
in just about any language

which may be somewhat helpful
to the venturing nomad
searching and incurring
on new pasture

yet even words can splinter
language deflecting into dialect
so dense the origins
get swallowed whole

but something sticks in the throat
like a vow to dissent
that then regurgitates
like a solemn curse

Source document as reference
is public testimony for all to see.
Yet time will free the redactions
of agreed meaning, as necessity
or adventure into word alchemy.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Bee Smith is participatingin GloPoWriMo2019

Word Salad

Poetry practice, this writing a poem a day lark,is certainly stretching all my capabilities.  I have added in another little challenge for November in a nod to the 30  days of Gratitude people. So my subject must be something for which I give thanks. One gratitude prompt had words on the list. And this suggested dictionaries to me. I have a large Oxford, an etymological and a rhyming dictionary on my book shelves. Not to mention online resources in a pinch when I am feeling too frail to lift the weighty tomes. I love dictionaries in all forms.

For an added challenge I decided to try a hithertoo unknown poetry form called the octameter. Its invention is attributed to Shelley A. Cephas and I found it on Linda J. Wolff’s blog Write An Octometer. 

The octometer is two stanzas of eight lines each. Each line must be five syllables long. And there is a complicated rhyme scheme, too. It feels a bit like doing a crossword puzzle. The poem references two writing warm up exercises I use in my Word Alchemy workshops. See if you can guess which!


Word Salad


Who has need of jewels

with a dictionary

in their possession?

Bless Dr. Johnson,

Webster and Oxford!

With a lexicon

you can feast your fill,

word epicurean.


Words fresh and crunchy,

word Venn diagram

or cold collation

with syntactic dates.

To be rambunctious

plan to obfuscate.

All language’s cousins

kiss in this cauldron.


Copyright © Bee Smith 2018